Lightning is almost unknown over the Arctic Circle, but this could change soon, causing forest fires and warming in the area .
According to a new study published in Nature Climate Change , in fact, it is estimated that the rays recorded in the Arctic may increase by about 100% by the end of the century as the climate continues to warm.
Biggest problem: more fires
Yang Chen, a research scientist in the Department of Earth System Sciences at the University of California Irvine who led the new study , examined NASA satellite data from more than twenty years on lightning in northern regions to build a relationship between velocity flash and climatic factors .
Using future climate projections from multiple models used by the United Nations, the team estimated a significant increase in lightning as a result of increases in atmospheric convection and more intense thunderstorms. Increased lightning will cause more fires , and the fires burn down short grasses, mosses, and shrubs that are important components of Arctic tundra ecosystems.
More fires also means that more permafrost (the perennially frozen soil that defines much of the Arctic landscape) will melt as fires remove the protective insulating layers of moss and dead organic matter that keep soils cool.
Permafrost stores a large amount of organic carbon which, if it melts from the ice, will turn into greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane.